Stakeholders adopt consensus statement on sustainable exploitation of Africa’s natural resources


ECA Press Release

 Addis Ababa, 25 October 2012 (ECA) - Over 800 participants attending the Eighth African Development Forum (ADF-VIII) on the theme, “Governing and Harnessing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development”, concluded three days of intense deliberations with key recommendations on sustainable exploitation, of the continent's endowment. The Forum, which was held from 23-25 October 2012, agreed a Consensus Statement that emphasizes sustainability, transparency and equity, among others, as key to the “effective governance of natural resources for the attainment of development ends that will benefit the citizenry.”

Participants committed to a natural resource development regime and strategy in which private investors are supported as much as they are also held accountable. They further affirmed the obligations of governments and private investors to protect communities that are affected by the exploitation and development of natural resources. In addition, the importance of research and innovation in the quest by African countries to derive optimal benefits from their natural resource endowments was emphasized.

In the area of mineral resources, they welcomed the transparency and accountability advocated for by the Africa Mining Vision and other initiatives as they ensure that the minerals sector delivers development dividends to governments and communities, while rewarding investors for the risk they take.

In this regard, they stressed the need to curb human rights violations, including child labour, gender-based violence and abuse of migrant labour. They called for improved mining safety, sustainable wages, decent housing and measures to cater for the health needs of miners and their families. Implementing the Vision, says the Statement, constitutes “a break with past experience and would achieve a much needed paradigm shift in the sector that has eluded the continent for decades.”

They stressed the need for support mechanisms to Artisanal and Small-scale Miners and enhanced knowledge of the continent’s geological endowment and geological mapping.  Further, to tackle human and institutional capacity challenges faced along the mineral value chain, investment was underscored for existing institutions and building new, specialist ones. The African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) and the African Mineral Skills Initiative were noted as a sign of collective commitment of African countries to strengthen capacity in this sector.

On the issue of land, they committed to fast-tracking the implementation of the African Union Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa in accordance with the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa so as to realize the reform of land policies, laws, and administration systems at the national level. In so doing, agreed the participants, “the prospects of successfully addressing the challenges of land ownership, use and management across the continent would be enhanced.”

Countries were also called on to identify and address issues within the local land rights debate and explore inclusive large-scale land-based investment models that empower small-holder farmers and communities and offer provisions to protect national food security.  Furthermore, appropriate policy and legislative frameworks, property rights, and issues to do with optimal land size and land lease period were agreed on.

They also called on countries to engage the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) as a possible institutional resource for the implementation of the AU Declaration on Land and the Nairobi Action Plan on large-scale land-based investment (LSLBI).

In the area of fishery resources, they agreed that Africa could increase its “fish wealth” from the current $2 billion to $30 billion within 25 years. However, catches are likely to decrease if remedial action is not taken to reduce overfishing.

“The fact that the resource base is shrinking and that African fisheries and aquaculture are not living up to their economic potential is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently,” said participants.

They agreed on the need to pursue sustainable financing of fisheries governance, through appropriate taxation and fees, greater transparency of revenue management and increased reinvestment of fisheries revenue. They also emphasized the need for policies that optimize nutritional and economic benefits from the regional and global fisheries trade, while reducing overfishing and post-harvest catch losses to more benign levels, and rebuilding over-exploited resources.

Other policy shifts were laid out, such as: including fisheries and aquaculture in the climate change adaptation plans of African countries; and participation of small-and medium-sized enterprises, including artisanal fishing, in the fishery and aquaculture sectors. This they said, could be done while strengthening the nexus between fisheries and aquaculture resource-based industrialization within the framework of the African Union Plan of Action for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa.

In the area of forestry resources, they called for the transformation of the forest sector industry from its present role as a producer of round woods and other basic processed products into one “characterized by a diversified range of valued added products that encompass secondary and tertiary processing, and increase the contribution of the forest sector to the socio-economic transformation of African economies.”

They also agreed on the need to develop policy and legal frameworks to embrace and harness opportunities offered by such new initiatives as REDD+ and the increasing world-wide quest for green growth, and enable countries, communities, and other stakeholders to tap available finances for sustainable forest management and human livelihoods.

Further, they called for a transparent criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. In this connection, they stressed, “efforts should also be redoubled in reforestation, restoration, and afforestation in order to halt and reverse forest degradation and overcome deforestation.”

The Forum attracted experts, activists and practitioners from across the African continent directly involved in land, mineral resources, fisheries and forestry. They including governments, academia, civil society, traditional rulers, the private sector, the United Nations family and development partners.  It was co-organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) the African Union Commission (AUC), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).


ADF VIII Consensus Statement


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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa